Saturday, 21 March 2015

The Ship of Future Past and Fluid Flights: The Official Starships Collection Issues 42 and 43

It's a lot longer than I thought.

No euphemism here, merely an observation on the shape of the USS Pasteur from All Good Things... which marks the first of this month's Eaglemoss starships.

Built and devised by ILM's Bill George, the Pasteur was notorious for being a homage to Matt Jeffries' original design for the USS Enterprise in The Original Series but was partially modified from a sphere to a saucer along the way to the now-iconic ship design.

With Issue 42 we get one of Starfleet's more diverse concepts with the Olympic Class hospital ship which, as I've already said, is a lot longer than I recalled. In fact on screen it looked a lot more squat. In reality the Pasteur seems a bit spindly with that oversized golf-ball primary hull, thin secondary hull and dwarfed warp nacelles capable of the miraculous warp 13.

On this occasion the lower half of the sphere and the secondary hull as a whole are in metal while everything above the top deck line of that secondary hull are in plastic. The detail - and for once the windows - are all in alignment; even my nacelles point in the same direction so no complaints on build quality from that side. Nor are any of the joint lines evident here between the two build materials. 

There are a couple of discrepancies between the plan views and the model in that there's a red stripe near the deuterium fuel port which is missing on the pics and there are also two black circles on the bottom of the sphere which don't appear on the very same image on pages eight and nine of the magazine. Those details missing in the pictures do turn up on the original studio model a few pages later however so we'll take that as the best source material!

That aside, even the number of lifeboat hatches mirrors the views and while it's only a small thing, I am impressed with the recessed deflector strip which I'd always thought was a phaser emitter. A couple of the hull details such as a "greyed" panel at the front of the sphere and the dashed line around it's centre aren't absolutely perfect but they're so tiny it's easy to forgive.The only thing that the pictures or studio model don't really give you a good comparison for however is the colour of the Pasteur which looks a lot more duck-egg blue than white.

The thin nacelles do feature our favourite red translucent plastic bussard collectors as well as the ship's registration. Notably the NCC-58925 emblazoned on the nacelles at four points is in The Next Generation title font rather than Starfleet ship standard you might have expected. Taking a glance at the model images in the magazine though you can see that this was how she was seen on the TV episode.

This is one of the models that I was pressing to see in the series and it's come earlier than I thought it might. I like the end result but perhaps I was hoping for something a bit more weighty and maybe just a slight bit larger. Just me probably but as  an end result the USS Pasteur passes muster for accuracy and will be one of the key ships fans will have been waiting to tick off their lists in 2015.

Issue 42 of the magazine does provide us with a superb CGI rendering of the ship on the opening profile section which concisely retells the story of The Next Generation's finale to the point where the Pasteur ends up in small pieces thanks to the attacking Klingons. As we've said, there's some nice plan views in here followed by a six page overview of the seventh season from The Next Generation and not a single picture from Gambit, Phantasms, Parallels or The Pegasus; oh the shame - but at least they are covered in the text. 

Why this takes over six pages when we get six paragraphs on Bill George's studio model is anyone's guess because I would have liked to see more of this vessel in detail. No other ship in Star Trek history looks like her and a few close-up shots of the hull would have been great as well as something on how they filmed her since there's a degree of 3D flying in that final episode. Maybe we could have even had some bits on the refitting of the "D" as well? We know that Doug Drexler turned up the third nacelle recently as part of a clean-up but what about the reasons all the bits were added for the finale? Perhaps for another issue...

Jumping from 1994 through to 1997 and the leap in technology is made very evident with the Species 8472 bioship which only ever existed within the framework of a computer. It's also the first organic ship we've had in the collection and there's every possibility that Gomtuu from Tin Man will be along at some point as suggested in a recent Twitter Q&A held by collection guru Ben Robinson.

This one's 80% plastic with the three fins cast in metal but this in no way detracts from the simple, slender design of the bioship which may also be one of the smallest and lightest models produced. Each panel bears the samel grey/brown "living" pattern surrounding the weaponised core  Eaglemoss have nailed the markings but the lack of lighting evident on the magazine cover does take something from the presence of the ship.

It's design is perfectly symmetrical along each fin which does remind me of the (later realised) Xindi Insectoid ship we had a while back but carries it off a little better (and that wasn't precisely symmetrical). Given it's small size - and a similar criticism I levelled at the Pasteur - this could have done with being just a little bigger to pick out some of the smaller detail on the tips of the forward prongs or in the centre module detail. It's nice but in comparison to the Starfleet ship from the previous issue there's not a lot to look at or investigate. 

In fact it's not been that easy to review given the repeated nature of the design. We can say that it's of a good build quality without question and that the precision taken to make each of the panels is very precise with no poor edges or, fortunately, sharp points on those fins. It's also incredibly sturdy but then the stabilising fins are metal so they will take a decent battering if the floor makes an attack. It's also mounted by those very fins in a stand which isn't the best of fits if I'm honest and on a couple of occasions the bioship has easily popped out of the grips which I've done a close up shot of here.

In the magazine the bioship looks a heck of a lot more exciting and way more cool than the model even if the pic on the profile page is a bit grainy. There's a good level of background on the ships and their most significant appearance in the two-part Scorpion story from Voyager. Split into two sections, this is comprehensive when it comes to the creation of the bioship which does make up a little for the disappointment of the model. The story of the craft is just as much a departure from the norm as the first Star Trek CGI aliens were when they took to the screen against the Borg. Certainly the text reflects the individual and instantly recognisable nature of the bioship at least making it one of Voyager's most impressive and notable enemies.

As with the Pasteur, the key moments for the bioship are limited to the one story it featured in and we round off the issue with the upcoming Intrepid in all it's blank-hulled glory.

In other related Collection news, Ben Robinson took part in a Twitter Q&A, revealing that there are some great plans ahead for the collection which suggest there's a ton of ships waiting to get their own issue.

Definite models include the NX-01 refit (never seen onscreen however) which is destined for the sixth special after the Klingon D-4 and the USS Kelvin. Ben also suggested that we'd get to see the K-7 space station, the glimpsed USS Enterprise-J and the Scimitar at some point although the latter is causing some headaches due to all those fins (note that he was even discussing this or a large scale Enterprise-E for a special release). The Romulan shuttle from In the Pale Moonlight was also alluded to and talking of shuttles, that set of four currently available in Europe will be heading to the UK but marketed differently.

Two of Ben's dream ships for the collection were mentioned. One being the Fesarius from The Corbomite Maneuver (which was listed on the back on the Issue Two promo pack) and the Breen warship from Deep Space Nine's final season. Apparently we'll be seeing the Breen ship first. Pushed further on upcoming issues Ben confirmed that there will be a mirror version of the Enterprise from Mirror, Mirror too. If that is the case I'd like to think we'll see the Avenger and the NX-01 mirror version at some stage. We will get to see the Enterprise-A dressed in an aztec paint scheme that was tragically missing from the refit right at the start of the collection.

Little additions of information did drop that Ben would think of adding the smuggler ship from Unification as well as Gomtuu from Tin Man, the Tamarian cruiser from The Next Generation's Suddenly Human as well as the Batris from Heart of Glory, the Merchantman from The Search for Spock and various Borg cubes.

And finally....Ben is now on Twitter and dropped a stunning pic last week that showed off some of the yet-to-be-released ships. I could four here - personal favourite the Steamrunner Class, the Sabre Class, the Romulan Bird-of-Prey from The Original Series' Balance of Terror and in the background a pair of nacelles that might well be attached to the NCC-1701. Then today we got an additional shot of the USS Appalachia close up which kinda made my weekend of Star Trek complete. Note with this one the rear stand - must not be a lot of weight in the front of the Steamrunner Class model to make that work.

And that's it for March's editions. Good but we've had better double selections and the teases we're getting indicate some stellar models to come - and even the possibility of USS Defiant and USS Voyager dedication plaques. One last point, apparently those annoying back issues we're missing will be resolved in the near future and seeing as it came from Ben Robinson I tend to believe it's true.

Liked this month's ships? Enjoyed Ben's Twitter Q&A? Let's discuss below!

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